Sport

Bolt, Stewart are sprint champs

As Green, Tracey cop hurdles titles

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013    

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SPRINT King Usain Bolt and the experienced Kerron Stewart ran away from quality fields on Friday night to win the men's and women's 100m titles on the second day of the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Trials at the National Stadium.

In front of an almost-packed and expectant grandstand, Bolt and Stewart delivered despite somewhat weakened fields with the absence of World Championships men's 100m champion Yohan Blake, and IAAF Diamond League women's 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who both had byes and skipped the events.

Bolt clocked a season's best 9.94 seconds to beat training partner and fast-rising Kemar Bailey-Cole, but said he still had a lot of work to do, even while downplaying news of another world-leading run by American rival Tyson Gay at the US Trials in Iowa the same evening.

Bailey-Cole, who won a gold medal at the Olympics last year as part of the relay team, made the team in the individual event with his second place, while Nickel Ashmeade was third in a season's best 9.99 seconds.

Ashmeade had bypassed the 100m last year despite running 9.93 seconds before the Trials, throwing everything into making the team in the 200m, but failed after placing fourth behind Bolt, Blake and Warren Weir, who went on to sweep the medals in London.

There was some disappointment, however, as former world record holder Asafa Powell — whose 88 times under the 10-second barrier is by far the most ever in history — failed to make the team, finishing a disappointing seventh in an unheard of 10.22 seconds.

Powell later told reporters his fitness let him down as he was not able to get through the three rounds and still run fast.

Powell, who pulled up in the men's 10m final in London, had not completed a race all season until Thursday's first round.

Meanwhile, Bolt, the double world record holder and six-time Olympic gold medal winner, said he had done his primary work, which was to qualify for the Jamaican team to the Moscow World Championships next month. He got off to a good start, took control of the race by 50 metres and had time to look around to gauge where he was before easing across the line, making up for last season's second place to Blake.

"It was all about qualifying here; this is what I came here to do, just to qualify," he said, adding that winning the title at Trials was not that important in the bigger picture. "Trials is always about making the team; when it comes to championships, that's where it really matters. Yes, I wanted to win, but it was more about getting through injury-free and getting it done."

He was quick to admit, however, that for him to retain the 100m title he last won in Berlin in 2009, he must put in the required work. "I have lots of things to work on: my start, my drive phase needs a lot more work. I am not getting the power that I want; I probably need to go back in the gym and do some core work, and then everything will come together."

He added that with a month to go before the August 10 start of the nine-day championships there were "no worries".

When the topic of Gay's 9.75 seconds was brought up, Bolt almost shrugged before answering: "Yeah, I have run 9.63 seconds and 9.58 seconds, so I have set the standard already."

Meanwhile, Stewart, the Olympic and World Championships silver medallist, used her experience to separate herself from the field at about 70 metres to execute a comfortable win with Sherone Simpson taking second in a season's best 11.03 seconds, while Schillonie Calvert, an Olympic relay silver medallist, made the team in an individual event for the first time, taking third in 11.07 seconds, just off her personal best 11.05 seconds set last year.

Stewart, who failed to get past the semi-finals of the 100m in London, but anchored the 4x100m relay team to a national record 41.41 seconds and silver medal, said she used her experience to get the win.

"I am at the point of my career where I have to put everything together and show that experience. Tonight it all came together," she said, warning that it would be foolhardy to underestimate her chances moving forward later in the season. "People are expecting me to be where I was in 2008. Then, I was 24 years old; I am embracing Kerron now and moving forward with that and the best is yet to come and because of my competitive nature and faith you can't sleep on me."

Leford Green, who was running injury-free for just over two years, retained his 400m hurdles title, while Ristananna Tracey bounced back nicely from her injury-affected 2012 season to win the women's race, both in a personal best times.

Green, who placed seventh in the final in London last year, clocked 49.20 seconds, beating newcomer Annsert White, who lowered his personal best once again to 49.30 seconds, with the veteran Isa Phillips taking third in 49.59 seconds to edge out Roxroy Cato, who made the team to the Olympics last year.

Tracey, who was a semi-finalist in Daegu in 2011 before a medical procedure on her wrist led to a late start to her 2012 season, could hardly stop smiling when she spoke to reporters after the race. "I feel great winning this race today. Last year was not as smooth as I wanted it." However, she added: "I put that all behind me and I came into this season with a different frame of mind and have been working extremely hard."

IAAF World Youth Championships silver medallist Danielle Dowie was second and Nickeisha Wilson third, both clocking 54.94 seconds.

University of Arkansas junior Kemoy Campbell ran virtually all by himself to win the 5,000m in 13 minutes 43.20 seconds, well ahead of the 'B' standard of 13 minutes 20.00 seconds, but he told the Jamaica Observer if he gets quality competition between now and the end of July he should be able to get the mark and make the team to Moscow.

National discus record holder Allison Randall also has some work to do to get the 'B' qualifying standard, as, despite winning in a season's best 58.97m, she is still shy of the 59.50m distance required.

The Blacksburg, Virginia-based athlete was hoping to be selected for the Central American and Caribbean Games, to be held in Mexico in two weeks' time, where she hopes she will get the mark.

National junior record holder Gleneve Grange was second with 52.95m, and Tara-Sue Barnett third in 52.04m

Wilbert Walker won the men's triple jump with a best mark of 16.40m, just off the 'B' mark of 16.85m, beating Damon McLean's 15.67m and Jonathon Reid's 15.53m.

Francine Simpson won the women's long jump with a wind-aided 6.35m (3.7m/s wind) ahead of Todea-Kay Willis (6.21m) and Yanique Levy (6.13m).

Rayan Lawrence and Shante Roberts won the men's and women's 1,500m, respectively; Lawrence ran 3 minutes 51.60 seconds to beat Andre Headley and Oraine Wint, while Roberts clocked 4 minutes 39.37 seconds to finish ahead of Tanice Barnett and Daniele James.

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